Boston Celtics: Draft Profile
Miles Plumlee: Plumlee never put up stellar numbers during his four years as a Blue Devil, but he's an elite athlete for his size and can be a force on the glass when he sets his mind to it. Plumlee's stock has risen drastically over the last few weeks, thanks to some impressive workouts, and while it's looking unlikely he'll be available for the Celtics at #51, they'd be wise to scoop him off the board if he slides. He'll never be a go-to guy on offense, but every team can use an energy guy whose primary focus is rebounding.
Justin Hamilton: Another big man the Celtics might want to target late in the draft, Hamilton has a host of areas he can improve in, but he put up solid numbers in his one season at LSU, and Boston could stash him up in Maine and let him develop at his own pace. One interesting note: Recent history has seen Boston go the LSU route when it's come to big men, as Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Johnson, Glen Davis, and Brandon Bass have all made appearances in the Celtics' lineup in recent seasons.
Hollis Thompson: Thompson's shooting ability could make him attractive this late in the draft. At 6-foot-8 he'd be a small forward project, primarily, but he could also spend time at the off-guard spot. Thompson never shot less than 43 percent from 3-point nation in any of his three seasons at Georgetown, and he possesses the range to extend that accuracy to the NBA.
Quincy Acy: At 6-foot-6 Acy is a bit undersized for the small forward spot, but his considerable athleticism helps him overcome that. Like other guys on this list, Acy's offensive game is far from polished, but this late in the draft teams understand that they're drafting more for the future than anything else. Guys like Acy are ideal for the Celtics' new single affiliation with the Maine Red Claws, as he can learn the system and focus on honing his game, rather than trying to break into the lineup of what will most likely be a veteran-laden squad.
Projection: Late first-round (Insider rank: 22; Position rank: 3)
In the news: Wroten has been making the rounds, working out for a number of NBA clubs, including the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Yahoo! Sports, and the Milwaukee Bucks, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Sentinel still has Wroten projected as a first-round pick.
Why the Celtics want him: Standing at approximately 6-foot-6, Wroten Jr. has tremendous size for the point guard position, and uses his considerable strength to finish effectively around the rim once he gets into the paint. Rajon Rondo is far too unique of a player to be deemed comparable to others, but Wroten Jr. is lauded for his court vision, passing ability, and athleticism, and has drawn heavy criticism for a poor jump shot and a questionable shot selection. In that regard he certainly sounds similar to Rondo. Depending on what the Celtics have planned for E'Twaun Moore, they might be willing to take a chance on another point guard prospect, and Wroten Jr. seems to have plenty of potential for a solid NBA career.
Why the Celtics don't want him: Similar to other prospects, Wroten Jr. to Boston could depend largely on the Celtics' outlook for next season. If they enter into more of a rebuilding stage they might try and land a promising prospect like Wroten Jr., but if they can re-sign the right people and make another push for a championship, they might opt for a player at a different position who might have more of a chance of helping them right away. With Rondo being only 26 years young, he'll still play the bulk of the minutes, and if the C's are serious about contending again, there's next to no chance they'll have a rookie serving as a backup point guard. The Celtics would most likely look to Avery Bradley or a veteran free agent (Keyon Dooling?) to fill such a role.
Projection: Lottery to mid-first round (Insider rank: 16; Position rank: 5)
In the news: Rivers has earned a reputation as a very confident player, bordering on cocky -- a reputation he's had to address throughout the draft workout process. TSN 1050 in Toronto caught up with Rivers, who addressed the label that's been bestowed upon him (via Sports Radio Interviews): "Truthfully, I just think it's kind of unfair just because that's not how I am. I think every great player is cocky and I think every great player has an ego. And that is something I have. I am cocky and I do have an ego. But it's a healthy confidence and a healthy ego. You can't have a negative one. There's a difference between being cocky and believing in yourself and believing you can do anything and you can do anything to help your team win and giving your teammates confidence ... than being an arrogant guy who thinks he knows it all and thinks he's better than everyone else."
Why the Celtics Want Him: Rivers is one of the best prospects in the draft, with a wicked crossover and one of the quickest first steps of anyone available. While not a pure shooter, Rivers can certainly make shots, and, as evidenced in a buzzer-beating win over the North Carolina Tarheels back on February 8, isn't afraid to take them when the game is on the line. Rivers is fiercely competitive (as noted above) and has always seemed to have a game better suited for the NBA than the collegiate ranks. He employs a very crafty floater that makes him very difficult to defend when he gets into the paint, but he has to become a better free throw shooter if he plans on getting to the line consistently (he shot just 65.8 percent from the line during his only season at Duke). Rivers will find a way to be a successful player in the NBA and already has the praise of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: It's not that the Celtics don't want Rivers, they just, most likely, won't be able to get him. While originally projected as a late lottery pick, Rivers' stock apparently has risen, as he's projected to go in the top 10 in many of the latest mock drafts, including ESPN Insider Chad Ford's. Ainge said during an appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (93.7 FM) last Thursday that it's unlikely the Celtics will be able to package their two first round picks (nos. 21 and 22 overall), to move up that high in the draft, and it's unlikely any team they'd be trading with would want any of the other assets the C's might be willing to part with. If Rivers is ever to play for his father in a Celtics uniform, it'll most likely have to come further down the road.
Projection: Late first round (Insider rank: 28; Position rank: 6)
In the news: Barton's stock has taken a bit of a hit due to him weighing in at only 175 pounds on a 6-foot-6 frame. He boasts the height of an NBA shooting guard, but some teams are concerned about his overall lack of size. Zach Dillard of Fox Sports Tennessee investigated: "(Barton) averaged 18 points per game during his sophomore campaign, but even as he confidently fielded questions in the Atlanta Hawks practice gym Tuesday afternoon, his gangly frame never strayed far from the conversation. "(I'll never be) necessarily bigger, just keep gaining strength. They know I'm not going to be the guy who puts on a lot of weight or be real muscular and stuff like that," Barton said. "The key was just to keep gaining strength, and they've been saying to just make sure I can take hits, finish with contact, defend bigger guys."
Why the Celtics Want Him: It's unclear where Ray Allen stands with the Celtics right now, but should he opt to play elsewhere next season, the Celtics will want to try and fill that scoring void at the shooting guard spot and Barton might not be a bad candidate. Barton enters the draft as an accomplished scorer, with the ability to knock down shots from virtually everywhere on the floor. What's more, Barton seems pretty devoted to getting to the free throw line as often as he can, and he isn't afraid to mess around in the paint. We've been noting throughout this draft profile series that the Celtics need to consider adding a player or two who can legitimately score the ball, and discussing Barton seems a good time to reiterate that point. Perhaps not 100 percent NBA-ready right now, Barton could take some time to develop a bit (maybe earn a stint with the now-Celtics-run Maine Red Claws?) and turn into a reliable scorer in the league.
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: Allen's decision to stay or go -- assuming it's made after the draft -- might have impacted Boston's decision on taking out a flier on a two-guard. If Allen stays, you're already looking at a lineup with him and Avery Bradley, so the shooting guard spot will be pretty well locked up, minutes-wise. Even if Allen ships out to another NBA city, it seems pretty evident that the guard the C's want playing beside Rajon Rondo in the backcourt is Bradley, given how well he broke out during the second half of last season. Additionally, will the Celtics bring back E'Twaun Moore? If so, they'll have a bit of a logjam at the off-guard spot between a few young players already. Would it make sense to add Barton to that mix? Sure, both Bradley and Moore could fill a role as a combo guard, playing at either spot, but Rondo will obviously average high 30s or low 40s in minutes-per-game, leaving opportunities for others at that spot pretty sparse.
Projection: Mid-to-late first round (Insider rank: 26; Position rank: 4)
In the news: Melo recently opened up about his academic woes during his sophomore season at Syracuse, which eventually held him out of the NCAA Tournament. From ESPN.com: "The Big East Defensive Player of the Year is traveling around the country, working out in front of NBA scouts and trying to answer one question: Why should a team spend a high draft pick on a player who couldn't finish last season because of academic problems? "It was academic," Melo said Tuesday after working out for the Pacers in Indianapolis. "They ask, I explain (what) happened -- that I came from another country and until four years ago didn't even speak English."
Why the Celtics Want Him: You can't teach size in the NBA, and Melo's a monster, physically. Standing at 7 feet and over 250 pounds, Melo has the build to be a hulking, physical defender, and every team would love to have one of those. The Celtics have benefited from a player filling such a role in the past, namely with Kendrick Perkins, and while there are no guarantees that Melo would have the success in Boston that Perkins had, he could mold and develop his game in a similar manner. With accomplished bigs like Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, and, yes, even Chris Bosh all residing in the Eastern Conference, it might not be a bad idea for the C's to add some size to their roster, and Melo already brings steady defensive and rebounding chops to the table (although he's currently a far better shot blocker than he is a rebounder).
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: In the report listed above, Melo's on the record saying he still considers himself new to the game of basketball, so it's not a stretch to imagine him being more of a long-term project than a short-term solution. The Celtics would be drafting him for his potential, and he would certainly have to develop a still very raw offensive game, and prove that he can maintain a high level of focus and competitiveness for a 48-minute basketball game. Size doesn't always translate to success in the league, either. Consider former UConn center Hasheem Thabeet, another foreign player who entered the league with raw skills and has yet to develop into a serviceable NBA contributor. As we move closer to draft day, the Celtics might decide that Melo is just too much of a wildcard in a draft in which they can't afford any significant blunders.
Projection: First Round (Insider rank: 19th overall; Position rank: 3rd)
In the News: From Lenn Robbins of The New York Post: "Barto, who raved about Iman Shumpert to anyone who would listen, said he sees a lot of Kevin Durant in Harkless, both in his game and disposition. That bearing has served Harkless well...At IMG (a training center in Florida) the players work full days Monday to Friday and a half-day Saturday. Saturday afternoons and Sundays are optional shooting days. For Harkless it wasn't an option -- it was a mandate. "He went 15 straight days without a day off," said Harkless' mentor, Nate Blue. "I was speaking to him on the phone a few days before his birthday, and you could hear it in his voice. I said, 'Come home, see your family, it's one weekend.' He said, 'It's one less to get ready.' I told him, 'You'll be ready.'"
Why the Celtics Want Him: The Celtics would most likely be stashing Harkless for future seasons if they take a chance on him, but with considerable size and all of the raw physical abilities a team would want in a prospect, it might be worth taking a shot on the St. John's freshman at this point in the draft. Standing somewhere between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9, Harkless is brimming with potential, and if the Celtics drafted him, they'd be doing so with the hope that he'd be able to channel his overall talent into a more refined game that could lead to a very productive NBA career.
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: Paul Pierce has spoiled the Celtics for more than a decade, as productivity at the small forward position isn't nearly as easy to come by as Pierce makes it seem. Almost every contending team has needed a perimeter player (usually a shooting guard or small forward) who can create his own offense, and as the C's begin a search for Pierce's eventual replacement (although you can't ever actually replace Pierce), they might want to look past Harkless. Despite his impressive physical gifts, Harkless is an inconsistent shot maker and a below average free throw shooter. His shooting motion needs work, and, more importantly, consistency. The Celtics might want to pursue an already established free agent or wait for another prospect when they're ready to sure up the small forward spot for the future.
Projection: Late first round (Insider rank: 24; Position rank: 7)
In the news: From Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio: "Jared Sullinger has been red flagged by NBA doctors, who cited concerns with his back, and most GMs feel that it will, in fact, cause his draft stock to slide. Sullinger's lack of overall athleticism already had created some doubts, and perceived medical issues certainly won't help. That said, the Celtics reportedly wouldn't mind giving him a shot, and might look to trade up (if necessary) to do so. Right now, they own the Nos. 21 and 22 picks in the first round.
Why the Celtics want him: Don't let Sullinger's position rank fool you; he can bang down low with the best of them in this year's draft class. Out of all of the big men expected to go in the first round, Sullinger has one of the more complete offensive games, as he's skilled around the basket, and can also create for himself and others when facing the hoop from 12-15 feet. Before this medical red flag was waved, Sullinger was being eyed as a potential lottery pick, which speaks to the skills he does possess and the belief that, prior to the injury news, NBA teams saw him as a player who would find success in the league. Add in the fact that he's a very good rebounder (he finished first in the Big Ten in total rebounding percentage during his freshman year and second during his sophomore year) and Sullinger might be a reasonable gamble for the Celtics.
Why the Celtics don't want him: Despite all of Sullinger's credentials, the medical red flag can't exactly be ignored, nor can his suspect athleticism and conditioning (C's coach Doc Rivers always demands his players be in peak condition). Boston's rebuilding process will happen sooner rather than later and Danny Ainge has proven before that a quality team can be built through the draft (think back to the 2004 NBA draft when he netted Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen in a single round). Plucking a few gems from this year's draft class really would go a long way towards stabilizing things down the road, so, despite his usual intention to swing for the fences, Ainge might have to scale back and go for a safer pick at the power forward position like Andrew Nicholson. Also, despite the red flag, Sullinger's stock hasn't quite dipped enough for him to be on the board when Boston's selecting, so it might be wiser to hold off on trading up for him, opting instead for trying for more value with back-to-back selections at 21 and 22.
Projection: Late first round (Insider rank: 23rd overall; Position rank: 5)
In the News: White hails from Minnesota, and 1500ESPN Twin Cities caught up with him and learned more about an anxiety disorder that he suffers from, which reportedly includes a fear of flying, which has been a turn-off to some teams who've eyed White as a possible prospect.
"They have a lot of questions about it, but at the same time, I am 100 percent honest," White told 1500ESPN's Dana Wessel. "I just tell them what I know, which is not much. I've only had it for three years, so I am still learning (about) it and everybody is still learning. I tell them what I know and be honest."
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: We've been saying for what feels like a decade now that next year is the year the Celtics will fall into a rebuilding mode of sorts, but Danny Ainge always finds a way to have his team back in contention. If that remains the case once again for the 2012-2013 campaign, and they take a flier out on a young player, they might want someone who's more polished on the offensive end who can help them avoid extended scoring droughts. Additionally, if the C's are once again contenders, it'll most likely be a roster of primarily proven veterans, and White has had some off-the-court troubles, and even though he's been up front about his anxiety disorder, the uncertainty over it could deter Boston. The Celtics won't be looking for any baggage if they're making another run for their 18th banner.
Projection: Late first round (Insider rank: 21st overall; Position rank: 8th)
In the News: Nicholson spoke with reporters just prior to the NBA Draft combine, and touched on the need to show scouts, general managers, and other team personnel his ability to play with consistent energy: "It's going pretty well, it's exciting, it's a good opportunity," Nicholson said, according to The Toronto Star. "Just need to show them that you play hard, you're consistent. It's not every day you're going to make shots so you just have to play hard."
Why the Celtics Don't Want Him: Boston's big man situation is still very cloudy right now, and will remain one of the more intriguing subplots throughout the offseason. Will Garnett forgo retirement and re-sign with Boston? Will Bass accept a reasonable salary figure and sign with the Celtics long-term? Will Stiemsma -- a restricted free agent -- be back? Will Wilcox come back (and will he be healthy)? And what about the development of JaJuan Johnson? If all of these chips fall back into place the way the Celtics would probably want them to, there won't be much need for a rookie big, as any minutes he might garner will most likely go to Johnson.
What's your take? Should the Celtics consider Nicholson? Sound off in the comments.
Positives: Strong, physical big man ... Huge wingspan allows him to play bigger than he is ... Good rebounder ... Solid shot-blocker ... Can muscle his way to the basket in the post
Negative: A bit undersized to play center in the NBA ... Isn't an off-the-charts athlete ... Limited playing time at Kentucky
Ford's analysis: Orton tore cartilage in his left knee in November 2008 and ended up missing his senior year of high school. This past February, Kentucky coach John Calipari noted to the media that he felt Orton was still hobbled by the knee -- although Orton, at the time, claimed it was 100 percent. While teams that had the information stressed that the concerns have not scared them away from drafting him, they do muddy the waters a bit when you factor Orton's sparse playing time this past season and the fact that he lacks the production of other big men in the draft.
Forsberg's take: Sure, his college stat line looks a lot like Shelden Williams' stat line this past season, but don't let that scare you away from Orton. He might be a bit small for the center spot, but he's physical enough to be a force in the Boston frontcourt. Defensively, he's a perfect fit, and his ability to rebound and block shots would be a welcome addition for the Celtics. Offensively, he's regarded as a strong finisher who bulls his way to the basket; that's something Boston really needs considering the struggles Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis often exhibit in trying to finish around the basket.
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Projection: Late first to early second
Positives: Big, physical guard ... Terrific scorer ... Great midrange game ... Powerful finisher at the basket
Negative: Has a terrible reputation for being selfish ... Not an elite athlete ... Lacks deep range on his jump shot ... Questionable shot selection
Ford's analysis: Stephenson continues to impress NBA teams after a strong combine. "As far as guys who just know how to play, he's it," one NBA scout said. "He's going to be great in 'iso' situations in the league. If all the red flags about him weren't there, I'm pretty sure this kid's a lottery pick. He's going to tempt a lot of people."
Forsberg's take: Stephenson is floating under the radar in the second tier of shooting guards, somewhere at the end of a list that includes previously profiled players like Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley and James Anderson. But he's got nice size and can flat-out score. As we mentioned with other players labeled "selfish," that's not necessarily a bad thing for a rookie scorer coming to Boston. Stephenson, a high school phenom from Brooklyn, seems to be able to create for himself and teammates, but could be the pure shooting guard the Green seek off the bench.
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Projection: Late lottery to mid first round
Positives: Sharp shooter with deep range ... Versatile player who can score in a variety of ways ... Solid rebounder for a wing ... Great size for his position ... Adept at picking up steals
Negative: Needs to add a lot of strength to his frame ... Isn't an elite athlete ... Lacks great lateral quickness
Ford's analysis: Back in April, Ford wrote: "Hayward is another hot name who should probably capitalize on his success in the NCAA tournament. While a few savvy GMs had him pegged as a potential lottery pick all year, most have moved him up the draft board much more recently ... Hayward should go somewhere between 10 and 20."
Forsberg's take: Ranked as Ford's No. 10 prospect in this year's draft and with interest reportedly as high as the Clippers at No. 8, it would seem Hayward has no shot of slipping all the way into Boston's range. But if he does make it to the teens, would the Celtics consider shimmying up a few spots to land him? Such a move could reveal how confident the team is in bringing back Ray Allen next season and how much of a need they feel to land an NBA-ready shooter.
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Projection: Late lottery to mid first round
Positives: Explosive scorer ... Very quick ... Long arms ... Wiry strong ... Big-time vertical leap ... Terrific first step ... Good midrange shooter ... Lockdown defender
Negative: Undersized for his position ... Lacks NBA 3-point range on his jumper
Ford's analysis: It's that time of year, when players doing multiple workouts a week start getting injured. Bradley sprained his left ankle in a workout in Oklahoma City [earlier this month], according to his agent, Mitch Butler. Bradley was doing a 3-on-3 drill when he was going up for an offensive rebound and stepped on a player's foot coming down. X-rays and an MRI given by the Thunder were negative. While the sprain is considered mild to a soft medium, the injury was bad enough that Bradley has ended his workouts. Butler said he believes the ankle will be healed in time for the NBA's summer league.
Forsberg's take: His numbers as a freshman at Texas don't wow you and he's seemingly undersized for a 2-guard, but there's a lot to like about Bradley's game. You can't help but wonder if tweaking an ankle last month might scare off some teams, particularly those that didn't get him in for a private workout, which would give the Celtics a shot at him on Thursday night. The concern here is a lack of a 3-point shot -- something Boston would presumably covet in the event that Ray Allen does not return. But Bradley also has the ability to play the 1, something that might solve Boston's lack of a backup point guard, making him an intriguing option as a utility guard off the bench.
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Projection: Mid to late first round
Positives: Super-tough, physical forward ... Long arms, NBA body ... Good athlete with some explosive leaping ability ... Good offensive rebounder ... Dramatically improved perimeter game ... Some range on his long ball
Negative: A tweener? ... Undersized to play his natural position at the 4 ... Still needs polish on the offensive end ... Needs to improve ballhandling
Ford's analysis: Last [May], nearly every NBA team had written off James. After an unimpressive combine in Chicago, James withdrew from the draft and most NBA teams penciled him in as a second-rounder in 2010. But James has been gaining momentum all year. NBA teams loved his toughness, motor and athleticism. But they questioned what position he would play in the NBA. James has worked hard on his perimeter skills and this year became a much more convincing small forward.
Forsberg's take: If a player was judged by the sum of his parts, James would be at the top of most team's draft boards. It seems requisite for any analysis to mention how much teams love his athleticism and his motor (one of our favorite draft buzzwords). Then comes the "but ..." No one seems to know where James will play at the next level, or at least if he'll be able to excel as a big 3 or undersized 4. James is described as "NBA ready," which is something the Celtics will seemingly want attached to anyone they're drafting at No. 19.
Previous profiles: Solomon Alabi | Jordan Crawford | James Anderson | Eric Bledsoe
Projection: Late lottery to mid first round
Positives: Super-quick point guard ... Pass-first point guard ... High basketball IQ ... Big 6-foot-7 1/2 wingspan ... Explosive leaper ... Terrific motor ... Excellent toughness ... Tough defender ... A leader
Negative: Lacks a consistent outside jumper ... A bit turnover prone ... Took a backseat to John Wall this year ... A year older than most of his class
Ford's analysis: Bledsoe may have played second fiddle to John Wall all year, but NBA scouts have been paying close attention. They love his speed, athletic ability and toughness on both ends of the floor. While scouts feel he needs to improve his shooting off the dribble and his decision-making, he may be the second-best point guard prospect in the draft. Look for him to go somewhere between 12 and 20 on draft night.
Forsberg's take: Some will wonder why the Celtics would use a draft pick -- especially one as lofty as No. 19 overall -- on a player that would essentially be utilized in the handful of minutes each night that All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is not on the floor. If Game 7 of the NBA Finals proved anything, such a player can be mighty valuable when Rondo finds himself gassed. Boston got by with smoke and mirrors (also known as Tony Allen and Nate Robinson) during the 2009-10 season, but would be well-served to have a true backup on the floor in future seasons -- particularly if that backup was the best remaining player on the draft board. Alas, more immediate needs likely win out over Bledsoe's potential.
Previous profiles: Solomon Alabi | Jordan Crawford | James Anderson | Hassan Whiteside
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